Nintendo 3DS Aims for Next Dimension in Gaming

The fight for the next generation of portable gaming will soon be coming right at you.

Nintendo says its next portable gaming device will feature 3D technology without special glasses, which could give it a leg up against Apple, a growing game seller with its iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

Nintendo didn't say much about the forthcoming device, but it's expected to include technology that enables it to respond to the tilt of the machine. (Most non-glasses 3D systems awkwardly requires users to stay perfectly still.)

Both companies have some history with 3D. Apple has additionally applied for patents on 3D display hardware, a 3D user interface for Mac OS X and a 3D gaming controller, while outsiders have created some interesting 3D solutions for Nintendo hardware.

In February 2008, researcher Johnny Lee demoed a low-budget way to add motion-sensing 3D capabilities to the non-portable Nintendo Wii. In fact, the Times Online reported that some analysts were hoping that Nintendo's first 3D move would be on that console. More recently, a well-circulated video (below) shows how the developers of the game "Rittai Kakushi e Attakoreda" took advantage of the Nintendo DSi's camera to create a surprisingly cool 3D effect.

Nintendo executives don't consider Apple a direct competitor since the companies' devices target different audiences, but Apple has had a significant impact on game revenues. Apple increased its share of portable gaming revenues nearly fourfold in 2009 to an estimated $500 million, according to a Monday research firm report. After just a year and a half, Apple now controls five percent of the $10 billion industry, according to research firm Flurry Analytics. Still, Nintendo, which sold 125 million of its DS devices in the last six years, controls 70 percent of the portable gaming market.

Some bloggers have been questioning whether Nintendo's new device might look a little something like this (the game is "Rittai Kakushi e Attakoreda" on the Nintendo DSi):

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Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.

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